Cordner hoping to be fit for Origin finale, Sims sweating on NSW debut
NSW captain Boyd Cordner remains desperate to lead the Blues’ first State of Origin clean sweep in 18 years as a troublesome calf injury throws his spot for the series finale in doubt.
Cordner, who is still expected to be named in an unchanged NSW squad on Monday, faces another battery of tests to prove his fitness as Dragons hitman Tariq Sims sweats on a first sky blue jumper.
Out: Boyd Cordner.
Fairfax Media understands Blues hierarchy have concerns about Cordner’s fitness after picking up the calf complaint in the series-sealing game two win a week ago, in which the Roosters’ co-captain also suffered a heavy concussion in the final minutes.
It could pave the way for Sims, who has been NSW’s 18th man in the opening two games, to make his Origin debut in a straight swap for the Blues’ inspirational leader.
But any decision about Cordner’s availability might have to be a swift one with the Dragons due to play the Storm in Melbourne on Thursday night.
St George Illawarra will be keen to for Sims to help them shore up top spot on the NRL ladder against the premiers if he wasn’t in NSW’s 17-man squad, but would understandably head south without him if he was set to earn his first Blues cap.
The potential loss of Cordner raises the possibility of Fittler having to find a new captain if – albeit temporary one – as the coach sets his sights on emulating his feat as skipper when he led NSW to their last 3-0 triumph in 2000.
Cordner’s calf was the subject of much consternation last year leading up to game three, albeit the stakes this time around won’t be as high given NSW has already wrapped up the series.
He has been outstanding for NSW in both the Melbourne and Sydney wins, earning man of the match honours at ANZ Stadium as the Blues repelled a late rally from Queensland to win just their second series in 13 years.
NSW's most successful coach Phil Gould questioned Cordner's spot in the team on the eve of the series, but the Roosters co-captain responded to lead a side featuring 12 Origin debutants to a drought-breaking win before stepping foot in Brisbane.
Cordner copped a heavy knock from clubmate Dylan Napa late in game two and had to ask NSW officials after full-time if they had won the series after initially receiving assistance from Maroons trainer Allan Langer.
He was shadowed during the lap of honour by NSW medicos and couldn't front the post match press conference, but later spoke to reporters in the dressing room.
Cordner missed the Roosters' clash with the Storm in Adelaide on Friday night.
Sims could be Brad Fittler’s 13th debutant of the series having rolled out 11 rookies in the series-opening win in Melbourne before Sharks veteran Matt Prior was drafted into the squad for Reagan Campbell-Gillard in Sydney.
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